Trustees with a Global Perspective
Published in TC Today - Volume 33, No. 2
If you’re in search of international expertise at Teachers College, look no further than the College’s Board of Trustees. Four trustees who bring especially well-informed perspectives to the table—Antonia Grumbach, Jan Krukowski, Abby O’Neill and Board Co-chair Bill Rueckert—are now serving on TC’s newly formed International Advisory Committee, which also includes faculty, alumni and friends of the College.
“Education is an international commodity—every individual in the world benefits from it,” says Rueckert, a descendant of TC founder Grace Dodge whose family also helped establish
American University in Beirut and three other major universities in the Middle East during the late 19th century. “To the extent that TC and the in general can promote education, it helps everyone.” United States
O’Neill, too, is the product of a family that has had much to do with the history of
involvement in education abroad. Her grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, built medical colleges in U.S. . At the behest of the China U.S. government, John D. Rockefeller III founded the Japan Society, which has funded education and the arts in . O’Neill’s uncles, Nelson and David Rockefeller, conducted extensive diplomacy in Latin America and the Japan Philippines at the request of more than one president. And O’Neill herself, who served for more than 50 years as a Trustee of International House (where Rueckert, too, has been a long-time board member), traveled with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to help those nations build civil institutions following the collapse of the Soviet Union. U.S.
“That trip in particular was a window onto the challenges of becoming a democratic society,” she says. “In my view, education is the secret to it all.”
Krukowski, whose firm Jan Krukowski & Company crafts messaging strategies for non-profits, was born in
Poland, where his father and grandfather had been lawyers, and arrived as a war refugee in the United States at the age of 10, having crossed Siberia and after escaping from a Soviet prison camp. His father, who would later serve in the State Department, initially got a job delivering sausages and hams in the Polish neighborhoods of Japan . Elizabeth, New Jersey
“My first day at public school, they asked us to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and I remember explaining in my broken English that I couldn’t, because I was Polish,” Krukowski recalls with a laugh. “I was promptly sent to the principal. Eventually I ended up at the Horace Mann/Lincoln School at TC and that was my introduction to Teachers College.”
Krukowski believes that education “must create a foundation on which to build democratic citizenship around the world—and by that, I do not mean promoting advocacy for the
.” Instead, he says, “we all must accept certain fundamental ground rules, the most important of which is the recognition that all human life is of equal importance.” United States
Grumbach—a lawyer who, like Rueckert’s forbears, has done extensive work with American educational institutions in the
“I’ve seen the difference that an American-style education can make—a liberal arts education in which people learn to listen, to respect each other’s points of view and debate ideas on their merits,” she says. “Democracy, I suppose you could call it.”
All four trustees praise TC President Susan Fuhrman for redoubling the College’ international efforts and express hope that the result will be a more a strategic focus in choosing partnerships.
“It’s been about letting one hundred flowers bloom, and you would never want to lose that,” Grumbach says. “But the question I think we need to answer is, how can we use everything we have in the most efficient way to help other countries develop their education systems so they reach the greatest number of people?”
To read extended comments by Grumbach, Krukowski, O’Neill and Rueckert on the College’s international efforts, visit www.tc.edu/tctoday.previous page